Monday, September 29, 2008

Sikkim closes for a day in support of their CM

A 12 hour bandh called by the supporters of the ruling SDF party was observed today. The bandh was called to protest the burning of Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling's effigy by the Shiv Sena activists on 11th of September in Siliguri, West Bengal charging CM Chamling with having 'dual nationality'. Except for Army and GREF all other Vehicles as well as shops were closed. Such all state bandh was last held ten years back. (photographs from Singtam)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Proud to be a Sikkimese


Today if i am asked what is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to you, i do not have any second doubt and say i am very fortunate to be born in Sikkim.But my love for my Sikkim never happened in a flash point.

It was the year 1996 and my first trip to Calcutta now they call it Kolkata, till then i never knew what was Sikkim really about. When i was asked about my place of origin i was too surprised to find that most of the people never had heard of Sikkim, they thought it to be part of either Nepal or Bhutan. It was with names of two Sikkim giant Danny Denzongpa and Bhaichung Bhutia i was able to relate that there is a small state of Sikkim a part of Indian union for the last 20 years. when i returned back at home i was swept off my feet, i was taken aback i never felt bad like that before and i thought within myself i never knew anything about could i tell people about my Sikkim. This promoted me to learn more about Sikkim and over the years i do have few knowledge about this Himalayan wonder but there are many unsolved mysterious hidden yet to be written. Our biggest problem is that most of the books on Sikkim had taken reference from Gazetteer of Sikhim by H.H. Rishley dated 1884 and since it was written by a britishmen he did left few patches.

More than thirty years down the line what is Sikkim in Indian Union...a place that gets Television mention only in weather forecast, PM, President visits Sikkim but India is busy is relaying the story of Matuknath's love affair with his student. Sikkim is regarded as the kalapani in terms of Indian judges dictionary. Judges are send to Sikkim if they are not able to cope with the system. do we deserve to be a residence of kalapani.

To add misery to the problem i do feel that there is some lackness among us too in promoiting our State. Where are the youth of Sikkim that says we are proud to be Sikkimese and care for our Sikkim. Today our cultural heritage is getting lost but who cares, the three community of sikkim had been living peacefully over the years but today we have separate parties of these community, but who cares. I am sorry to say but it is true our youth lack the knowledge of Sikkim, the pride of our past. How many people know about names like Jiwan theeng, Nari Rustomji, Pagla Dewan, Kashinath Pradhan, Alley, Hitler Lepcha, Ruth Karthak and others.

How many people in our state know that a wise man Chanakya, a hero in the Indian history had killed a Lepcha king and he was killed by the Lepcha army. How many of us know Sikkim is the home of rocketmail...the moment when USA and USSR had not gone through rocket mission but it was Sikkim that paved the way for them. I just ask how many of us know who designed the map of Sikkim we today have. Do we know that a painting of Sir Tashi Namgyal hangs in the room above the bed of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his home at Teen Murti Bhawan, have we gone through the pages of history when it says after the death of Nehru his ashes was dispersed in the sky around Gangtok and Kanchenjunga, we have many beautiful history to be written but who cares.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sikkim, my serene Sikkim

Shital Pradhan

Sometime I wonder, around the belt I sleep,
The wonderful thoughts and off course the beauty,
I believe, I am fortunate ever,
Fortunate ever to be born,
Born in this serene part of land,
Sikkim, my serene Sikkim.

The best part of it,
Simplicity lies in every heart,
Eagerness and handwork the synonym,
Every child stores a dream,
Dream to make big, shoves off.
Among the crowd there is me,
Mine heart that beats for my Sikkim.

Monastery, green fields and mountains,
That is my Sikkim.
My identification and my reality,
Better off and still on realm,
My Sikkim, my serene Sikkim.

Land of beautiful flowers,
The ocean of fauna,
Here I find, heaven’s pleasure,
All the way I sing, I plight for myself.
I love my Sikkim...
Sikkim, my serene Sikkim.

old sikkim advertisement in 1957-59

scan from Kanchenjunga

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Visit to discover Indian blogs

Danny Denzongpa : A Pride of Sikkim

  • Born : February 25, 1948, Yuksom
  • Real Name: Tshering Phinsto Bhutia
  • Danny Denzongpa was named by Jaya Bhaduri
  • Wife: Gawa
  • Son: Rinzing
  • Daughter: Pema
  • Primary education: Geysing
  • Learnt Hindi in : Birla School, Nainital (1964)
  • Graduation: St. Joshepp’s College, Darjeeling (B.Sc (Bio­Science)
  • Danny Denzongpa participated in republic parade at Delhi in his college days.
  • Won Governor’s Silver Medal as best NCC cadet.
  • Acting course: Film and Television Institute of India in Pune
  • Graduated with a Master of Arts (1st Class) in Dramatics
  • First Film (Hindi): Mere Apne (1971)
  • First song (Hindi): Sunno Sunno kasam se (with Asha Bhonsle in Kala Sona)
  • First Nepali film in Sikkim: Mashaal
  • Popular Nepali Songs: chiso chiso hawa mah, Kanchi lai ghumauney Kathmandu sahahrah, Rato Rani Phule, hui bhanda chiso and Mann koh kura lai badhi narakha, Sunah katha euta geet, Aamai ley bhanthey, samai panchi ho.
  • First Hindi Serial: Ajnabi followed by Ushool
  • Role of Gabbar Singh in Sholay was first offered to Danny Denzongpa.
  • Won two Filmfare awards for best supporting actor: Bewafa Sanam and Khuda Gawah.
  • West Bengal Critic Award for Best Actor: Bengali film 'Lal Kuthi'
  • He wrote the story of Saino, nepali film shot entirely in Sikkim.
  • Denzongpa's love of horses and horse riding began at an early age, as his family was into horse breeding.
  • First English film: Seven years in Tibet with Brad Pit
  • First hindi film directed : Phir wohi raat
  • Awarded Padma Shri: 2003
  • Sikkim State Award on August 15, 1999
  • He has made a major contribution to the industrial growth of the State by establishing a beer manufacturing company, Yuksom Breweries at Melli in South Sikkim. He has also established a fully air-conditioned film and vision studio at Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

Dzongrilla, 11th Road JVPD Scheme, Juhu Mumbai 400 049

compiled by Shital Pradhan

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SNT: Life line of Sikkim


Part 1

SNT as Sikkim Nationalised Transport is popularly known has been a backbone of a rich old heritage in Sikkim transportation history. Set up in 1944 and more than 50 years later it is still going stronger, marching ahead with pride. It is believed anything to begin takes immense hardship and patience, in this article we would be carrying out the story of the first twenty-five years of Sikkim Nationalised Transport, a pride of Sikkim.

The year was 1944; when the rest of the world was engaged in the disastrous Second World War, a department called Truck Department run by Government of Sikkim was the forefront of transportation in the hills of Sikkim. Sikkim then had….snowfall in the Northern Ranges in winter…rainfall exceeding 100 inches a year during monsoons… frequent landslides…subsidence… weak bridges…absence of airport. For a hilly region like that of Sikkim where major development in the field of transportation was merely a dream; Truck Department was a boon to the people living in this part of the world.

The first year of the setting up of the Nationalisation of Road Transport saw ten 15-cwt Ford trucks and ten 15-cwt Chevrolet trucks brought in an investment of Rs 140,000, avail from the loan provided by the Rationing Department of the Sikkim Government. The total tonnage lifted by those trucks amounted to 600 tones earning for the Department gross revenue of Rs 49,900. With limited routes around the trucking operation was done through Gangtok-Tista-Kalimpong and Gangtok-Tista-Geilkhola until 1960 where the floods of 1960 destroyed the railhead at Geilkhola never to be restored.

Following decade of 50s brought Sikkim to close links with the neighbour country India. An arrangement were made in 1951-52 with the North East Frontier Railway in India and Indian Postal and Telegraph Department resulting in the opening of the Railway Out Agencies at Rangpo and Gangtok along with the starting of the carriage of postal mail between Gangtok and Kalimpong. Freight services were extended to Siliguri and Truck Department’s Pradhannagar Depot was also opened the same year. A major announcement came in 1951-52 with the naming of the Truck Department with that of “Sikkim State Transport Service”. In its first eight year the Sikkim State Transport Service had a gross earning of Rs 18, 71,124.

Rangpo saw the first consumer pump for petrol erected between 1952 to 1954. By 1954 the gross earning of the Department has already crosses Rs 32, 82,786. The following year saw a new usher in the development of Road Transport in the State with the introduction of the First Plan in Sikkim too that was for seven years. Prior to 1954 planning of the Transport in the state was refereed as pre-plan. The First Plan (1954-1961) had a capital outplay of Rs 8, 50,000 provided as aid by the Government from Departmental funds received from Government of India. The year also witnessed the first Tata Mercedes Benz Truck; Model L 312/36 being use on the road from Gangtok to Rangpo, Gangtok- Darjeeling daily Passenger service in land rovers was also introduced. An agreement for the counter signature of route permits by the West Bengal Authorities and of Sikkim State Transport vehicle was negotiated. This move made the vehicle from Sikkim operate on the route of North Bengal that played an important role in the economic development of the state. THE State Transport Service’s Offices set up at Rangpo the same year saw a net profit of over Rs 2, 98,348. The second year (1955-1956) of the plan had the renaming of the Transport Service to the present name “Sikkim Nationalised Transport”.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Can we save this heritage old hospital gate of Singtam?

The gate is the only thing that's left of that Old Hospital out at Shantinagar, Singtam . It is said that the king of Sikkim, late Chogyal Tashi Namgyal had visited this place to innagurate the hospital. Today the hospital had been shifted to other place and over the years this lone gate stands against all odds. I have heard people talking to dismantle it since thier loads on truck does not pass beyond this gate but i ask is it worth removing the pillar of past..i say how many such heritage structure are there in Sikkim related to its great past.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Those era in Rhenock


Sikkim is a home of religious front. Admist the fact that these heritage sites are now a part of negligence but still richness lies in its glory of past. With the wheel of clock things have gone through their mid way but there are certain strokes that pave its own path and remain the testimony of the hour. Through this blog I have always tried to give the best insight story to its reader regarding the Sikkim, it’s past and present. Here comes a story of a Shiv mandir in Rhenock that has been weaving in tale frozen in time.

A Shivalaya at Rhenock Jeep stand near Bhanu Bhakta‘s statue had its own glory days and now lie in a affirm of deep silence. Once much crowded mandir is now on the verge of loosing its charm. I met Sunder Kumar Pradhan, former Panchayat member from Rhenock in his early 80s some time back and have heard a fascinating story of this mandir. According to Pradhan, this mandir has been in its present position ever since he was a child. He told his father used to let him visit this place and the mandir is over hundred years.

Pradhan told an interesting narrative that goes as: “During those days landlord inherited the land of Rhenock. The landowner of Rhenock then was one Rai Saheb Tulshi Das Pradhan. Once Rai Saheb had a strange dream. He saw in his dream a Sadhu inform him of a presence of a Shivling in the small pond present at Rhenock bazaar and ask him to construct a temple. The next day he unfolds his dream with his associates as a result it was decided to empty the pond water. The water was emptied and as told by the mysterious Sadhu a Shivling was found on the bottom of the pond. A small mandir was then constructed with walls and roof over the precious stone. (The above photograph according to Sunder Pradhan was shot around 1935-1940) Newar Samaj was formed and given the charge of the mandir. Later years land was owned and a house for Pujari was constructed”.

Sunder Pradhan recollected those days when Lakhey Dance (traditional Newari dance), Gai-Jatra (traditional Newari ceremony), Krishna aastami was performed in the mandir. Gai-Jatra, a religious ceremony held in Newar community was last held in this sleepy Sub Division in late 90s. According to it, after the death of male or female person a statue known as Basah in Newari language is made. In case of female the statue resembles a cow while for male counterpart ox is made. The statue is made of paper, mud, cement, marble rock, pottery and others. These statues are kept in man-made Rath and moved around the bazaar and returned back to the mandir. Higher the cart better the occasion, as it is told. It is believed that the ceremony will help the sprit of the departed person attain moksha.

Pradhan told Kumalay were trained Lakhey dancers. Man Singh Bhujel was one the last Kumalay Lakhey dancers who would thrill the gathering crowd. Pradhan narrated that the dancers would wear traditional dress and masks. At one time there were four trained dancers. Ever since the death of the last Lakhey dancer some forty years back and lack of interest among the younger generations made the pride of Rhenock extinct.

These celebrations now a part of legend in Rhenock and in some way or the other it is the loss of Rhenock that today’s generation fail to witness such tradition.



Recently a woman named Rachel Ellison was awarded an Order of the Member of the British Empire (MBE). She had set up a radio show called Afghan Woman's Hour in Afghanistan under the aegis of British Broadcasting Corporation. She was given the honour for promoting human rights and female empowerment in the country.

This piece of news reminded me of a WWII veteran Gurkha, Major Kunjalal Moktan who too had been awarded with an order of MBE. The MBE was given to him in recognition of his efforts at helping the Britishers reconstitute the partition torn Brigade of Gurkhas at Malaya (Malaysia).

Albeit, ‘the order has attracted some criticism for its connection with the idea of the British Empire. Many famous personalities including Benjamin Zephaniah have rejected the MBE saying it reminded of "thousands of years of brutality—it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalized”. Nevertheless, a Gurkha to have received an MBE for a reason other than bravery in the face of enemy is a welcome delight. Major Kunjalal was born on 22/02/1922 at Singel Tea Estate to Harkabir Tamang. After completing his matriculate from St. Alphonsus School in the year 1940, he joined the 1/10 Gurkha Rifles as Rifleman Clerk.

There is an interesting anecdote behind his recruitment. After having been selected as Rifleman Clerk at Ghoom Recruiting Depot, Major Kunjalal returned home to break the news to his father. His elder brother, Babulal Moktan, already being in the army (1/3 G.R.) his father did not take the news well and forbade any further discussion on it. It was only when Major Marshall, the recruiting officer at Ghoom recruiting depot, traveled all the way down to his house and talked with the old man, then did the old man relent.

After completion of his training at Quetta and thereafter at Rajmankh Frontier Province, Major Kunjalal and his regiment were taken to Madras from where they where shipped to Rangoon (now Yangoon). By the time they reached, Rangoon had been completely destroyed by Japanese bombs. To make matters worse, the Japanese force was just 24 hours away from Rangoon. To avoid unnecessary casualties, began one of the longest retreats in the history of modern warfare. An order was issued; Kunjalal and his regiment were to retreat to Imphal on foot through Irrawaddy (at Irrawaddy his elder brother was taken as Japanese prisoner of war). While retreating through the jungles of Burma, Major Kunjalal was hit by a bomb shrapnel and was immediately shifted to Shwebo, from where he was airlifted to Tinsukhia and then to Shillong Military Hospital. Luck was with him, he was slightly hurt while the person standing next to him was torn into two.

After getting well, he was once again pushed into Burma through Manipur. This time on foot. The advance was not easy. For months they ambushed, fought hand to hand battles against the Japanese and crept forward. Finally at a strategic lake near Matilla, they put camp for about six months. How did they spend their time – fighting and driving away retreating Japanese forces from Arakan and adjoining areas?

The war having been fought and won, Major Kunjalal was at Rangoon when India became independent. Following India’s Independence, vide the Tripartite Agreement of 1947, the Gurkha Rifles was divided between India and England. Two battalions of 2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th were handed over to the Britishers. The men of the respective regiments were given a choice; stay with the Indian army or cross over to the British army.

Initially Major Kunjalal volunteered for the Indian army but the commandant of his regiment corresponded with Delhi Headquarters and had him on liaison on Indian allowances to help raise the newly re-formed battalion at Malaysia (Malaya). After his services at Malaya were no longer required, he could return to the Indian army but Major Kunjalal was to stay at Malaya until his retirement.

Major Kunjalal was then a Havildar. Being an officer, he was sent to the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) school, Malaysia for M.T.O. & M.T. Sergeants. The RASC was responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air dispatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.

At the school there were only two Gurkhas among a crowd of white soldiers but Major Kunjalal shined above the rest and stood first. On his success, his superior officer declared that from there on the next MTO would not be a British officer but Captain Kunjalal. Shortly thereafter, a proposition was mooted to form a Gurkha Army Service Corps (GASC) on the lines of RASC, within the Brigade of Gurkhas. Kunjalal was selected as one of the instructors to run the GASC School. There on for six years he was instructor at GASC, Singapore. After that he was sent by the Brigade of Gurkhas for an advanced MTO course at RASC, England. On his arrival at England, he saw that the instructors there were the instructors who had taught him at RASC, Malaysia. The instructors had been so highly impressed by Kunjalal, that whenever an explanation was offered in the class, they would seek the approval of Kunjalal “Isn’t it so Captain Moktan”

After retirement while working at Assansole Collieries as Chief Security Officer, the MBE was offered to him. He was given a choice; he could receive the MBE from the hands of the Queen at London or from the British High Commissioner at Malaysia before his Brigade. He chose the latter for as they say he ‘lived to serve the Unit not to a transient personality or cause.’ His service was to the Gurkha Rifles and not to the British Flag. At present, Major Kunjalal can still be found hale and hearty, on sunny afternoons, deep in conversation with his old time friends at Kurseong Railway Station.

(This article was first published in Explore Sikkim published from Singtam, Sikkim)